No matter what Kim Luu is up to, impact is on her mind.
“My whole life's purpose is to be helpful to other people,” she said. “To be helpful to my family, to be helpful within society. No matter what profession I’m in, I’m trying to make an impact.”
Originally, that desire led her to pursue a career in hospitality, where she could directly impact the one-to-one consumer experience through her attention to detail, clear communication, and forward thinking. She moved from Vietnam to the United States to pursue a Master’s degree in Hospitality Management at Fairleigh Dickinson University.
While living with a host family during her studies, she bonded with the mother of the household, who inspired her to regain touch with her innate curiosity. She helped Kim realize that she had long ago shut off a valuable part of her mind – one that was more about seeking and exploring. But this led Kim to a career crossroads.
“After that, I struggled with my career choice, because I felt like it wasn’t for me. Even though I love to be with people, I didn’t feel like I was going on the right path anymore,” she said.
She started looking into other options, harkening back to her childhood self, when her desire for answers sent her on interesting rabbit trails that led to even more questions.
“I was always looking for things and asking questions and making things that were crafty,” said Kim. “I started thinking, what can bring me that sort of excitement again?"
Realizing the potential of software engineering
A friend suggested she try coding – an area of study often associated with deep curiosity – but she brushed off the idea at first because she’d never worked with computers in any serious way.
“I realized that with software engineering, I can make an even bigger impact because the world is changing so fast, only software can keep up,” she said.
After the bootcamp, she landed her current job as a Software Engineer at Intellivision Entertainment, a company whose mission is to unite people through affordable, family-friendly entertainment. She works on the infrastructure cloud team, doing backend work to build out services for consumers. She has a lot of autonomy on the job, but simultaneously feels like part of a passionate, supportive team with mentors and coworkers all working together toward common goals.
Though her time in hospitality is now in the past, Kim still leans on some of the skills she learned in that field. For her, there’s an important similarity tying the two together. They’re both about problem-solving in order to make people’s time feel valuable and their experiences more enjoyable.
“There is problem-solving in both fields. In hospitality, I was dealing with smaller, human problems, and now, I’m using a computer to solve bigger ones,” she said. “With technology, I feel like I can do more. I can save people more time and bring more people together.”
Want more alumni stories? Read how Brian Price found creative fulfillment in his new role as a Software Engineer, and learn how Joe Buono's training as a professional musician helped him prepare for a career change.